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E-MAIL TO THE EDITOR: Pierce County Libraries Wants Publishers To Respect E-Book Users

They are either not selling e-books to libraries or selling them at costs up to three times as much as list prices or with heavy usage restrictions, the library writes. For example, “Fifty Shades of Grey” costs Pierce County Library $47.85.

The six major publishers are not selling e-books to libraries, including and that’s giving residents throughout Pierce County a raw deal. The public is demanding e-books from libraries and publishers are locking them out.

“I am confused and frustrated by publishers’ unwillingness to allow us to participate in the e-book marketplace,” said Neel Parikh, executive director, for the Library System. “Publishers have given no clear reason about their blackballing libraries and the public, and taking on the role of a modern-day Scrooge.”

Retailers are projecting Kindles and other e-readers again will be top sellers this holiday season. Last year, after the holidays, people rushed to the libraries to learn how to use their new technology gifts and start downloading e-books for free from Pierce County Library.

Publishers have drawn an arbitrary line and are turning their back on the 122,000 libraries and approximately 169 million public library customers. They are either not selling e-books to libraries or selling them at costs 100-300 percent higher than list prices or with heavy usage restrictions.

Currently, only two of the six major publishers, HarperCollins Publishers and Random House, Inc., are selling to libraries at exorbitant prices or strict restrictions. For example, “Fifty Shades of Grey” costs Pierce County Library $47.85 and sells on Amazon.com for $9.99.

Pierce County Library offers e-books, however because of the publishers’ blockade to libraries it is not allowed to offer what is available on the open market. As a result, the Library System is reducing its e-book budget by nearly 50 percent in 2013. The Library System sparingly purchases the over-priced e-books in its commitment to be good stewards of taxpayers’ dollars.

“It’s quite rare that in a free market a customer—in this case libraries and the American public—is refused the ability to buy a company’s product and is told its money is no good.” said Parikh.

Every day people ask staff why the Library doesn’t offer very many best-seller e-books and why it provides so few e-books. In response the Library is now asking people to take this question directly to the publishers.

It is asking residents to send an email or postcard to publishers and urge them to sell to libraries. People can get a sample email from the Library’s website at www.piercecountylibrary.org or postcards at any Pierce County Library.

-Pierce County Library System

Sharon Hodgins December 04, 2012 at 03:07 PM
As a library patron, I did send my post-cards in to publishers to support the libraries position on getting e-books at a reasonable cost. However, when an actual book is purchased, no doubt in larger quanties at a discount, at some point it will have to be replaced. But not so with e-books -- once on line, they could be downloaded a zillion times. Publishers and writers have to stay in business to publish and write. So I can understand why publishers do want some restrictions on how many times the book can be downloaded. I hope a compromise can be reached that is fair to both sides.

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